From speech comes writing, and a counsel: "Do not make many words (Ankhsheshonq)." Yet, the papyrus of Ankhsheshonq contains many words, "One, two, many" and so on. [Sebayt].
The instruction, "Do not make many immature guidelines, disproved money charges in court, and what looks like big boasts only," might be much better. It could have helped a lot of folks; not only the Americanised guru Yogananda. But . . .
From a Yogananda organisation, many troubles
Yogananda was sent to the West to spread kriya yoga, presumably unadultered kriya yoga. Yet he changed it, gave many talks and sermons, brought false and untrue money charges in court, got many books published - and withdrew much to a desert, away from the organisation he had founded, sleeping little for years, and dying of a heart attack at fifty-nine. He also wrote to India how he repented having started his organisation - Self-Realization Fellowship; it was like eating faeces, he found.
We cannot all be like that, and all may not take to heart a lesson of so from his fare. The organisation took over by and by. Now see how SRF's later, long-time leader, Daya Mata belittled her guru: She
herself signed a declaration, under oath, that Autobiography of a Yogi had not been written by Yogananda himself, but by a committee! [and, further, that] he had written Autobiography of a Yogi as a "work for hire."
What we may learn too late -
If you have something of value to be implemented and try to establish a company to help you, consider all that gets lost and wasted in it - time, concerns, wasted efforts, paperclips and much else. Parkinson's law (adage) with extensions refer to the self-satisfying, uncontrolled growth of the bureaucratic apparatus in an organisation, that primary barrier to efficient time management. (Parkinson 1957) (WP, "Parkinson's Law")
But that is not all: What if the organisation you once started to help you to carry the torch, works against many of your good ideals later, perhaps stifles and changes you, depletes you and makes you lose interest? Yogananda wrote what may be translated into:
Yogananda set SRF in motion and repented it at least one day. Starting SRF was a foolish blunder, he wrote. There is not much information about why he repented starting SRF, for how long he did, and what he might have done to remedy matters. At any rate, SRF got momentum.
If he reneged, it could be fair to shut down his organisation while it was small. But "too little, too late", perhaps, also in the light of the further, cloistery SRF fare. [◦Documentation: This source file]
What may be suspected is that a horrible, absolutely foolish blunder may have unwelcome repercussions, perhaps also ramifications of folly and troubles if the matter is not remedied well. Not to do so would be another folly. The SRF founder's handwritten letter is here: [◦Yogananda admits it (see the source file)]
Yogananda realised that starting SRF was a grand mistake. Should his devotees back up SRF or not? One obvious solution: Stay away from it. Yogananda sought to do it, but not wholly. Another: Get out if you can, as we may all have clearer and brighter moments.
But if you realise you have made a mistake and don't do anything to rectify it or yourself, troubles could be in store for you and perhaps for many others too. Take heart: "He is not the most suspect who knows he is suspect," - or confused, looney, and so on. Try to make the future damages less, and at least don't go for multiplying them. One way springs to the eye: keep the prospectively damaging things "cloistered, walled in".
Some would say: "Yogananda regretted starting SRF, but that was long ago. Today Self-Realization Fellowship is headed and run by monastics in the USA, and therefore the organisation is taken well care of after one third of those monastics left the SRF premises between 2000 and 2005 (Jon Parsons 2012:170) - Things are just fine, I hope."
Well, SRF places look peaceful as compared to Los Angeles in general. However, they also looked like peaceful havens just a few years before one third of the SRF monastics left too, at least to Jane Dillon in her doctoral study that included one SRF nunnery or more. [More on Jane Dillon's Doctoral Dissertation] - And still, it matters to discern between facade and real content. There was a difference between surface appearances and what actually was happening among the "loyal, devoted bunch" in those years. Lola Williamson writes about what really went on in SRF at the time, such as,
A labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. . . . SRF hire[d] outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees . . . were formed . . ." (Williamson 2010:76)
The problems were not solved well. There is more here: [Much more]
Not so peaceful - court cases
A good part of what SRF works for and lives by and feeds on is based on fractions of Yogananda's lectures, sermons, talks and main aims. They fought in court for many long years for the needed copyrights to persist as sole publishers of books that might sell well.
Kriyananda was once an SRF monastic, and ended up with about the same teachings and ways of thinking as them, although SRF fought him and his Ananada Church for many years for the rights to Yogananda "bones" of writings, although Yogananda is quoted to have said to a direct disciple:
Don't take my word for anything. . . . Don't get hung up on words . . . please remember. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998
"Different strokes for different folks." Some benefit from good teachings, and to remember that Yogananda told "Don't get hung up on words" is that. It may not mean SRF's and other publishers' wordy lessons or article jumbles are the top teachings.
SRF lost the right to much Yogananda material in that 12-year long legal feud with the Church of Ananda. SRF filed a massive lawsuit for trademark, publicity rights, and copyright infringement. The judge and jury did not favour SRF in all respects, but some of them. [◦Details]
The founder of Ananda, Swami Kriyananda, had got hold of lots of lands in 1968 - 160,000 m2 near Nevada City, California, and his spin-off society had 125 meditation groups in 19 countries before he passed away, and presents itself as a global movement that is based on the teachings of Yogananda. They produce videos, articles, online books, and online classes and more.[◦Ananda Sangha] And as with other leaders in alternative communities, his conduct was not liked by all and sundry - [Details]
Yogananda set wheels rolling, in part by inconsistent teachings and practices, dubious propaganda, and also his hailing of dictatorship (Yes, he did, in 1934).
Yogananda teaches the world is pretence. If the world is illusory, as he says, his teachings would be of very little substance. Isn't it pretence? But compare: "Illusion is itself illusory", says Ramana Maharsi.
Another side to Yogananda pretence: A former associate of Yogananda, Dhirananda, sued Yogananda for eight thousand dollars that Yogananda had written he would pay, without doing it. Dhirananda found resources enough to go to court. In the trial of the lawsuit of Swami Dhirananda vs. Swami Yogananda,
Swami Yogananda accused Swami Dhirananda "of taking secretly, against Swami Yogananda's will, and without Swami Yogananda's consent the sum Twenty Thousand Sixty-Six Dollars and sixty-one cents ($20,066.61) in the City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, State of California beginning on the 14th day of April, 1923 in the years 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, and up to and including the 24th day of April 1929." . . .
Then, on May 8, 1935, a janitor at Yogananda's headquarters in Los Angeles, found a box in an old rubbish heap in the basement there. In the box were said lost checks and cancelled checks or otherwise, books, confidential records, papers and files - proof that Dhirananda was right and Yogananda wrong. What was in the box was examined and all money charges made by Swami Yogananda against Swami Giri-Dhirananda were proven false and untrue. The verdict of the judge in the case, James MacLachlin, a past U.S. Congressional Senator from the Los Angeles area, was that Yogananda was to pay Dhirananda the eight thousand dollars he owed him. Then Yogananda left the country for a year and a half.
Two sebayts for many: "Better examine things well than ending up in court and accuse another unfairly." Saying the world is pretence while breaking moral standards may not be wise.
By and by Paramahansa Yogananda's teachings turned into exhorting "God-lore" and the original kriya teachings were simplified and changed. The kriya hype was vastly expanded. That fact should not be hard won at all. Is there an ignoble guy around somewhere? Could an honourable fellow put massive, unverified hype and marring propaganda in the way of good folks and raise huge expectations in the victims of it - the gullible beginners and "doctrinated" followers by and by? A hard-hearted slob might, and even a lot.
From your higher ground you get helped to clearer views, for example, "There is false play about Yogananda guidelines and SRF's removal of some of them, yet "not finding faults with guru statements that may rob one of enough nightly sleep, a fulfilling and rewarding sex life, reasonable or sensible dieting, and how he once regretted having starting SRF - and there is much else false play around too.
SRF preaches "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ" (that is Jesusianism), even though monasticism was no part of any "Jesus Christianity", and there was no Christianity before he was executed either, according to Acts 15. [◦More]
Although there is much false play around, it is not a fit solution -
Under the influence of Yogananda
There is no sect without members to uphold it as such by submitting to it and its creed. Compare: "It takes two to tango". It is wise to guess that SRF deflectors are not all alike, and yet, deflectors may carry a lot of such luggage inside, for what outsiders know. Much depends on growing up and much on getting rid of unwelcome luggage and ties.
We sometimes need to deal with others that got under the influence of Yogananda and SRF - both of them. Even after leaving SRF or Yogananda, influences linger on in what is believed, and much else.
Still under the influence
Around 2001-2002, one third of the SRF monastics at the time left the SRF premises. It is not always easy for a monk or nun to do that. Ex monastics may feel out of step on the outside, and ex prisoners too.
One of the ex monastics rigged a discussion board that was active between early 2001 and late 2011. After it closed down, a ◦backup site of its first, demanding five years was put online, and so on.
The SRF Walrus board
The SRF Walrus was initially started "to help those who have been involved closely with Self Realization Fellowship . . . For most it is shocking when they get a close look at the reality of what the organization is like and it brings their loyalty to SRF and Yogananda into question . . . Come help us." The Walrus was met with open disregard, disparaging and denigration among SRF-faithful ones.
Some who posted on the SRF Walrus stated they had gone insane by the SRF methods and teachings - all of which goes along with two tricky problem:
If getting involved with the teachings of Yogananda and/or Self-Realization Fellowship hurts a lot, it would have been better to stay away from them in the first place. But such warnings might be ignored - not by all, but by those who might need it the most, according to "Advice, when most needed, is least heeded. [Mieder et al. 1996:9]".
The moderator of an SRF-fond discussion-board called for moderation by: "To disparage a board that disparages others makes one board just like the other." - Well, disparaging is a common thread in both cases, but underlying facts and 'fallenness' involved could differ much. Put simply, to disparage a mighty dictator like Mussolini is not quite the same as disparaging one's mother.
A good thing to say about many monastics may be: "They have probably not been hoarders." And then, on the other hand, they should have worked for wealth for themselves and their real family, to get or keep control over at least a part of the world's resources - and manage things wisely instead of embracing poverty, obedience to fooling ones and all that.
The high-principled non-hoarders who entered a monastery, could better have sought wealth and profit, to distribute it maturely, to use it well, as the case may be. One of the four general ideals for a human life is artha, wealth. There are many forms of wealth, and some are fit. So to manage one's life well and to manage what comes into it, or gets into it, matters too. Interestingly, there is an accredited US university that aims to help life-management, self-management, ◦MUM, Maharishi's University of Management.
Another side to a former monastics problem could be that might and wealth are increasingly amassed in the hands of very few, is a big, big problem in the world, for the rich make conditions cramped for many others. Unckequed, unequal distribution of good things in life may continue and ruin the living-conditions on earth even more. In such a light a monastic should perhaps have stuck to his or her property, sought to get more, and thereby get more control over resources to help the planet, for example by buying lots of land to preserve or cultivate without exploiting it so badly that it degenerates in time. It might be that high-principled, former monastics could have helped the earth more by refusing to give their time and power to work and other assets to deeply exploiting ones.
Insights like that may come ruefully late in a life - hopefully not too late.
A board made up by disgruntled ex-members may not be a completely unbiased source of information. The board showed in many cases that "He who gives advice for nothing could be a bigger fool than he who does not take it." [cf. Mieder et al. 1996:10] and "Advising is easier than helping [Mieder et al. 1996:11]." Some well-meaning (?) members recommended shrinks to other members.
The Walrus moderator: "The scandals [we write of] are about the organization he started which is seriously off track . . . we are attempting to prevent SRF from harming more of his loving devotees. Most who come in contact with the core of SRF leave Master." So "Far from court, far from care".
The former SRF monastic and follower of Yogananda who started the Walrus discussion board, made it clear that critique of Yogananda would not be welcome on the board, but would be deleted. It happened, but a string about Yogananda praising dictatorship and Fascism was found there.
Going for Jungian individuation
Can discussion boards help us develop? It depends on how polite the boards may be, how truthful and well informed. Boards that allows anonymous contributions - shun them, and shun them well.
There is hope for some. Carl Gustav Jung describes four characteristic stages in a transforming process.
Another way of putting it: Living up to your sincere interests develops the personality. That is psychoanalytic thinking, at any rate. Also, getting a good education by following up sincere interests, makes the fare lighter, possibly. so cultivate your sincerest interests, and see if they branch out in time. It may happen. This branching out of interests is good, and furthers growth (development towards being a mature individual). As trees grow upwards and outwards, branched and solidified interests indicate growth (development and so on) in a process that Carl Jung calls differentiation.
Now, the process of maturation - not necessesarily stepwise or in such an order -, is essentially what Jung meant by a process of individuation.
Juged from such a sketch as given above, a discussion board may serve as a springboard for higher development, if we are careful. It can happen. "The process of individuation, becoming conscious of what is truly unique about oneself, is inextricably tied up with individuality and the development of personality," the Jungian analyst Daryl Sharp puts it in Digesting Jung (2001:63)
Individuation is a process . . . having for its goal the development of the individual personality. - Carl Gustav Jung (in Sharp 2001:63)
One should do better than expecting that an online discussion board that is made up of largely anonymous and disgruntled ex-members of SRF, is full of praise of SRF.
It is unwise to put all one's eggs of trust in one bag - especially not in anonymous posts - except for special reasons -, but rather in well respected authors, solid publishers and preferably in writers with fair and fit credentials - something like that. There are of course nuances also.
The discerning contributions may use "well respected authors, solid publishers and preferably a fair academic credentials" to support them, along with clear and apt literature references. That way of presentation props up the writer by links to accepted resources of valued ideas. Quality-aligning may help a long way under the circumstances.
A sad case
It happens that what is funny for spectators and newspaper readers is not funny for those involved. Study the details of the infamous case where DNA tests apparently clear Yogananda in a seven-year paternity dispute. It is generally thought that "Separate tests show the yogi didn't father a disciple's son with a lady." However, the man bringing the charges sticks to his claim, that Yogananda was his biological father. [Los Angeles Times/July 11, 2002, by Teresa Watanabe]
Yogananda, who died at age 59 in 1952, was accused of having an illicit affair with a married disciple, and fathering Ben Erskine. Ben's stepfather had berated his mother with accusations of an affair with the guru, Erskine said, and called him "the little black bastard" because his complexion was darker than that of his four siblings. Ben was not black, but not pink either.
To settle the claims, Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship hired a former San Diego criminal prosecutor to establish an independent testing process to compare Erskine's DNA to samples taken from Yogananda's three male relatives in India. And the results from two separate labs both showed no relationship between Erskine and Yogananda.
However, there is a weak link in the chain of events: The carrier of the DNA samples was an SRF monastic, not a neutral agent.. That is not the way to do it. Ben Erskine and his attorney, Shane Reed, rejected the results as biased because the blood specimens were collected and sent to the labs by a fellowship monk they claimed could have doctored the samples.
For SRF much was at stake: properties, rights, their guru's reputation and so on. OK, switching of samples is a possibility. SRF could have guarded against it, and it would have been an easy thing to to. One comes to wonder why they did not play by the rule, if they wanted to "settle all doubt." There is room for doubt, for SRF chose "to let a billygoat (monk) guard the sack of wild oats (DNA-samples)," in the way they handled it. A suspicion is roused.
Ben Erskine still believed that "Yogananda is my father." His attorney, Shane Reed, said they would review the DNA results to decide whether to proceed with a court request to disinter Yogananda's corpse . . . for further testing.
Learned folks hardly have time to spend on bad handling and rumours unless they are paid to do so, but there are exceptions. [A source - there are many more on the net]
"One swallow does not make a summer" is a proverb. Several swallows seen may indicate that summer is here, though. But the conditions have to follow suit.
One good witness may get to the bottom of the troubles, whereas many bad, undeveloped fellows may not. There is that risk, particularly with anonymous postings . . .
"One moon outshines a thousand stars" There are good witnesses and others. Abraham Maslow found that self-actualisating people are better at finding out or judging than all the rest. [Pusb, Chap. 11] But to judge who are best self-actualised, is far from easy. And then again, a study at the Tokyo University into brain-waves of meditating Zen monks and how their Zen roshis (teachers) had evaluated their progress, tells that the longer the Zen monk had meditated in a Zen way, under supervision, the better was his said progress. The findings are indicative. [Study]
"If you have the moon, ignore the stars (Moorish Proverb)." If we transfer the findings of Zen meditators to an SRF ashram, is it true that the longer people stay in that environment, the clearer they understand, and the more reliable their testimonies will be, in average? Not necessarily. It would also depend on how repressive, hostile or abusive the compared environments might be. There is a host of caveats. The witness has to be gauged too, for a wicked testimony from a short stay may count very little as compared to testimonies of gentle and good monastics who had been there for years, for example. And again, one quite full moon outshines a thousand stars. Let the self-realised ones tell also, let both sides be heard. That is democratic.
Learned doctors are stars on earth. (Saying)" Well learned and relevantly trained doctors could have what it takes to evaluate just who brings the most light on an intellectual level, at the very least. You have to question and inspect what kind of judge is about too, to lessen or get rid of incompetent evaluations, various sidings, etc.
"If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?" Tunisian Proverb) One decent, well educated or wise, old or much realised witness has the advantage of such cardinal qualities when witnessing. It goes against distorted views, emotional and cramped ill-will, distortions from being hurt, overreactions and fault-finding a la reformed alcoholics - they want to get rid of the thing and not fully harmonised yet - you name it.
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.
Kriyananda, Swami. The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda. 3nd ed. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2010.
⸻. A Place Called Ananda. Rev. 2nd ed. Nevada City: Hansa Trust: 2001.
Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Nikhilananda, Swami. The Upanishads. Abr. ed. New York: Harper Torchbook, 1964.
⸻. The Upanishads: Aitareya and Brihadaranyaka. Vol. 3. 1st ed. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956.
Parkinson, C. Northcote. Parkinson's Law: And Other Studies in Administration. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1957.
Parsons, Jon R. A Fight for Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2012.
Satyeswarananda, sw., tr: Inner Victory: With Lahiri Mahasay's Commentaries. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1987.
Sharp, Daryl. Digesting Jung: Food for the Journey. Toronto: Inner City Books, 2001.
SRF Walrus Discussion Forum. [◦Back-up into 2006 exists (2017)]
Williamson, Lola. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press, 2010.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical, 1946. Online.
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